Five Russian Paralympic nominees have been named finalists for the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) 2011 Paralympic Sport Awards, presented by the IPC's international partner, Allianz.
Finalists for the awards include:
• Best Male Athlete Category – Irek Zaripov: The Russian, who lost both of his legs after a car accident back in 2000, won five total medals in Vancouver, including four golds and a silver. He struck gold in two Biathlon events (2.4km Pursuit, 12.5km Pursuit) and two Cross-Country Skiing events (15km Sitting, 10km Sitting), in addition to picking up a silver in Cross-Country (Sprint Sitting).
• Best Female Athlete Category – Vasilyeva Liubov: The visually impaired Russian, who began skiing in 2003, claimed gold in the 3x2.5km Cross-Country Skiing Relay in Vancouver and silvers in the Biathlon 3km pursuit and 12.5km pursuit. She also won bronze in the Cross-Country Sprint Classic Style. A Paralympic veteran at 44, Liubov also competed in Wheelchair Fencing at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
• Best Team Category – Russia Cross-Country Skiing Relay Open (men): The men's squad clocked a time of 38:54.8 in the 1x4km + 2x5km Relay to win gold over Ukraine and Norway. The team consisted of Sergey Shilov, Kirill Mikhaylov and Nikolay Polukhin, in addition to guide skier Andrey Tokarev. Russia won 22 overall Cross-Country Skiing medals in Vancouver, including seven golds.
• Best Team Category – Russia Cross-Country Skiing Relay Open (women): The women's team skied the 3x2.5km Relay in a time of 20:32.2 to speed past Ukraine and Belarus for the gold. Maria Iovleva, Mikhalina Lysova and Liubov Vasilyeva made up the team, in addition to guide skiers Alexey Ivanov and Natalia Yakimova. Russia won 22 overall Cross-Country Skiing medals in Vancouver, including seven golds.
• Best Paralympic Games Debut Category – Maria Iovleva: After competing in winter sports since the age of 9, Iovleva won gold in the 10km Biathlon and silver in the 2.4km Pursuit, in addition to being a member of the gold-medal winning women's Cross-Country Relay team. She will now look to build off that performance in her home Games at Sochi 2014.